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Massage offering on the Camino Ingles

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SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#1
This post is a very personal post and let me stress that I write it only from my personal experiences.

Lately on the forum we hear some disturbing news about harrassment and not respecting personal physical boundaries.

Again what follows are my impressions and should not be seen as an attack or official complaint.

When in pension O Novo in Meson do Vento in April the younger owner immediately touched me between my shoulderblades when I came in and asked me if I was not stiff and said he gave massages.
I saw the table in the corridor...I declined in a firm way. I asked him if he had a physio degree and he said yes although I did not see any diploma or certificate.He did not insist but I did not feel well about it at all.
I was also the only pilgrim that night.

It might be a cultural thing. I know Spaniards touch each other more in a friendly manner without any double entendre but his touch did feel me uneasy.
Again nothing inappropiate happened but I can imagine that some ladies whom are offered this service might feel uneasy. The massage table was in the corridor so I do not know where the actual massage would be given.

So this is just a general warning to everyone to respect your own boundaries and trust your instincts. Or when someone offers you a massage it might be a good idea that this would happen when other people are around.

Also I really think that before someone touches you he or she should ask you if you are ok with that.So first asking and then acting not vice versa.
I hope this can help future pilgrims.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#2
It may be a cultural difference, or maybe not.
But now people know to be careful - to be clear, and to set and maintain comfortable boundaries.

As women, if something feels off, it goes against a lot of conditioning not to worry about 'hurting feelings,' to say no and then to let others know what has happened, so that they may be safe.
As you did.
Thank you, Sabine, for having the courage to share your experience.
Now you can breathe more easily, knowing others are aware.

Edit - I will be doing the Ingles later this summer and would not hesitate to stay here. But I will know to be alert.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#3
A note from the Moderators:
Sabine is a very experienced pilgrim whose contributions to the forum have been very valuable over time.
Her post was vetted through the moderators before posting. She does not intend to make accusations against the albergue in question but wants to point out to solo women that care should be taken in any situation that feels uncomfortable...especially if you are alone.
 
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#4
Just to echo what grayland and others have said. I know that many of us don't "want to make a scene," "don't want to be rude," etc, but I hope that these posts will encourage women to follow their instincts in cases like this. And not worry about whether the man who started the whole thing will be offended or insulted. I've had people touch me on the shoulder without setting off my alarms, but I have also been in a situation very similar to Sabine's and it just didn't feel right to me. I was glad I got out quickly (this was not on the Camino), because I later heard that another female student had had a less happy ending with this same professor than I had.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Madrid, Frances and Finisterre (2015)
Camino Norte-2017; Camino Ingles from A Coruna - 2017
#5
This post is a very personal post and let me stress that I write it only from my personal experiences.

Lately on the forum we hear some disturbing news about harrassment and not respecting personal physical boundaries.

Again what follows are my impressions and should not be seen as an attack or official complaint.

When in pension O Novo in Meson do Vento in April the younger owner immediately touched me between my shoulderblades when I came in and asked me if I was not stiff and said he gave massages.
I saw the table in the corridor...I declined in a firm way. I asked him if he had a physio degree and he said yes although I did not see any diploma or certificate.He did not insist but I did not feel well about it at all.
I was also the only pilgrim that night.

It might be a cultural thing. I know Spaniards touch each other more in a friendly manner without any double entendre but his touch did feel me uneasy.
Again nothing inappropiate happened but I can imagine that some ladies whom are offered this service might feel uneasy. The massage table was in the corridor so I do not know where the actual massage would be given.

So this is just a general warning to everyone to respect your own boundaries and trust your instincts. Or when someone offers you a massage it might be a good idea that this would happen when other people are around.

Also I really think that before someone touches you he or she should ask you if you are ok with that.So first asking and then acting not vice versa.
I hope this can help future pilgrims.
I too stayed at that same pension last year while on the Ingles. Like you, I received the offer of a massage but something felt "off" about the whole thing so declined.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#6
This post is a very personal post and let me stress that I write it only from my personal experiences.

Lately on the forum we hear some disturbing news about harrassment and not respecting personal physical boundaries.

Again what follows are my impressions and should not be seen as an attack or official complaint.

When in pension O Novo in Meson do Vento in April the younger owner immediately touched me between my shoulderblades when I came in and asked me if I was not stiff and said he gave massages.
I saw the table in the corridor...I declined in a firm way. I asked him if he had a physio degree and he said yes although I did not see any diploma or certificate.He did not insist but I did not feel well about it at all.
I was also the only pilgrim that night.

It might be a cultural thing. I know Spaniards touch each other more in a friendly manner without any double entendre but his touch did feel me uneasy.
Again nothing inappropiate happened but I can imagine that some ladies whom are offered this service might feel uneasy. The massage table was in the corridor so I do not know where the actual massage would be given.

So this is just a general warning to everyone to respect your own boundaries and trust your instincts. Or when someone offers you a massage it might be a good idea that this would happen when other people are around.

Also I really think that before someone touches you he or she should ask you if you are ok with that.So first asking and then acting not vice versa.
I hope this can help future pilgrims.
Sabine, you have done a great service to others, thank you.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#7
A good reminder to trust our gut feelings or intuition. I know I sometimes ignored those signals for two reasons. One is because of the earlier mention of 'hurting feelings', 'making a scene' or 'not wanting to be rude'. The second reason is that it is difficult to understand that you can somehow make a lightning fast situation assessment without conscious thought. But especially during travel I learned (very quickly!) never to doubt my gut feeling again, because it was always spot on. Don't doubt your intuition, whether you are male or female. It is there for a good reason: to keep you safe.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#10
I sympathise totally with those who feel uncomfortable and feel that their space is invaded, even if it is unintentional. The following is not meant in any way to negate those feelings or criticise and it is right to be aware of such situations.

From a personal experience I have never felt any threat/intrusion from being reached out to or touched by bar/cafe/hotel owners in Spain. In fact many have shaken hands and given us a hug/kiss on the cheek as we leave. That is where the difference lies - I was not alone and it was not on arrival. The contact was welcome with no sense of intrusion.
Just the other side of the picture as Northern Spain is still a place where many folk do touch and reach out to one another in a way that others now fear. Being aware of this is good, as well as trusting ones own feelings too at the time.
 
#11
I sympathise totally with those who feel uncomfortable and feel that their space is invaded, even if it is unintentional. The following is not meant in any way to negate those feelings or criticise and it is right to be aware of such situations.

From a personal experience I have never felt any threat/intrusion from being reached out to or touched by bar/cafe/hotel owners in Spain. In fact many have shaken hands and given us a hug/kiss on the cheek as we leave. That is where the difference lies - I was not alone and it was not on arrival. The contact was welcome with no sense of intrusion.
Just the other side of the picture as Northern Spain is still a place where many folk do touch and reach out to one another in a way that others now fear. Being aware of this is good, as well as trusting ones own feelings too at the time.
This is very true as I observe interaction at this moment in a local café in Alcazarén on the Camino de Madrid. You often touch one another while talking, whereas in other cultures this might be construed as too intimate. I know that I do the same with Spanish friends.

As a hospitalera, especially in Grañón, we were hugged and kissed by the Spanish in the morning when leaving. Northern Europeans would shake our hands. I was volunteering with 2 other Spanish women and a comment was made regarding this difference. It's cultural and it is important to respect the differences.

Of course what Sabine describes is different. Gut feelings or instinct rarely fails, at least that has been my experience.
 
#12
I know some time has passed since Sabine posted her original thread. But I wanted to add that I have just received a personal message from a female forum member who wishes to remain anonymous but who had a disturbing encounter with this man. She had taken him up on the offer of massage, and then things got weird, he even intimated some totally inappropriate body parts for a massage, at which point she jumped up and ended the whole thing.

I asked the member if she would mind if I posted it, because I think it corroborates the gut instincts that several other forum members posted about, and because it should be a warning to others who find themselves in this place.

Stay safe peregrin@s, Laurie
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#13
This is disturbing. I have heard other "rumors" concerning this type of behavior in a few albergues on various caminos. Be very careful as times have changed and there are many more diverse people being attracted to the camino, both as pilgrims and as commercial/albergue managers.

I would suggest that women take the time to look carefully at the areas where you will shower or change clothes for anything out of the ordinary. I really hate to suggest that ladies also think twice about staying alone in albergues unless they are sure of the surroundings and the person running the dormitory.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#14
It takes a brave person to speak out about inappropriate behaviour at a much-loved Camino institution. Well done Sabine for sharing your experience and starting this thread.

Many respected forum members have had very positive experiences of this place. I had a mixed experience. The owner struck me as a lovely man and I've happy memories of my interactions with him. His son - not so lovely. I arrived late in the afternoon, totally exhausted after a long walk. He saw how tired I was and was very quick to offer a massage - which felt very inappropriate. I refused - probably a bit abruptly and he became a lot less friendly. I asked if food was available and he was adamant that they did not serve food. I later learned that others staying there were offered something to eat in the bar.

I slept well - with a chair against my door. I remember thinking that this precaution was perhaps a bit silly as nothing 'bad' had happened. I also wondered if I had over-reacted, or if my exhaustion led me to misinterpret the situation. Now that I've heard other experiences, I'm glad that I trusted my gut.

On a more general note - I've come across a few creepy people offering massages to pilgrims (especially on the CF). I've learned from experience to be very cautious about such services. It's definitely worth paying a bit extra to go to a physiotherapist.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#15
I 'liked' your post @peregrina2000, without liking the content in the least - and am at a loss for words.
So much harm being done: to peregrinas first of all, but to his parents as well (they are both lovely people and very good hosts), and ultimately to himself. Such a pity.
Look after yourselves, everyone, and do not be reluctant to trust your gut.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#16
I know some time has passed since Sabine posted her original thread. But I wanted to add that I have just received a personal message from a female forum member who wishes to remain anonymous but who had a disturbing encounter with this man. She had taken him up on the offer of massage, and then things got weird, he even intimated some totally inappropriate body parts for a massage, at which point she jumped up and ended the whole thing.

I asked the member if she would mind if I posted it, because I think it corroborates the gut instincts that several other forum members posted about, and because it should be a warning to others who find themselves in this place.

Stay safe peregrin@s, Laurie
Would you please ask her to consider to make an official complaint?
I too received 5 messages through different channels from 5 differrent women but not enough clear " evidence" to take things further.
The only way to go to the bottom of this is an official complaint before police and court.
 
#17
Would you please ask her to consider to make an official complaint?
I too received 5 messages through different channels from 5 differrent women but not enough clear " evidence" to take things further.
The only way to go to the bottom of this is an official complaint before police and court.
A very wise suggestion Sabine. Messaging back and forth may provide moral support to those involved (which is in of itself important) but it will not bring about lasting change unless there is enough proof to back up the claims. Women need to step forward and formally make a complaint with the police.

In @grayland 's post above he said: "I really hate to suggest that ladies also think twice about staying alone in albergues unless they are sure of the surroundings and the person running the dormitory."
When walking by yourself on solitary routes such as the Levante, Via de la Plata or Mozarabe (just to name a few) you are often entirely alone, of course depending on the season. One can never be 100% sure of the surroundings or the person running the dormitory. Be vigilant, listen to your instinct (as you would anywhere) but I feel that it is also our responsibility not to create a state of fear, that would be a step too far.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#18
In @grayland 's post above he said: "I really hate to suggest that ladies also think twice about staying alone in albergues unless they are sure of the surroundings and the person running the dormitory."
When walking by yourself on solitary routes such as the Levante, Via de la Plata or Mozarabe (just to name a few) you are often entirely alone, of course depending on the season. One can never be 100% sure of the surroundings or the person running the dormitory. Be vigilant, listen to your instinct (as you would anywhere) but I feel that it is also our responsibility not to create a state of fear, that would be a step too far.
I agree 100%. We don't want to create a state of fear - and we also don't want to encourage a narrative where women are portrayed as vulnerable creatures in need of protection!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#19
Does anyone knows if his parents (described as lovely above) know about his behavior? Maybe telling them would be enough to end this completely inappropriate acts of "hospitality".
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#20
To be clear.....I am not suggesting that women do not stay alone in albergues when that is necessary. I am suggesting that they be very alert when there is any question of safety....leave when instincts kick in.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#21
Does anyone knows if his parents (described as lovely above) know about his behavior? Maybe telling them would be enough to end this completely inappropriate acts of "hospitality".

We should not do IMHO anything of that kind.

Again : official complaint to the authorities!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#22
I agree 100%. We don't want to create a state of fear - and we also don't want to encourage a narrative where women are portrayed as vulnerable creatures in need of protection!
It is a fine line to acknowledge that unfortunately and undeservedly women face risks that men do not, sometimes significant risks, while avoiding portraying women as vulnerable. The onus shouldn't be on women to seek protection. The onus should be on men to ensure that such protection is unneeded. Nevertheless, I wouldn't want to paint the picture as nicer than it is, or to dismiss the real experiences that people are describing, to avoid that fear and narrative.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Inglés, Fisterra/Muxia, Baztanés x2, Primitivo, Norte, Portugués & hopefully many more.
#23
It is a fine line to acknowledge that unfortunately and undeservedly women face risks that men do not, sometimes significant risks, while avoiding portraying women as vulnerable. The onus shouldn't be on women to seek protection. The onus should be on men to ensure that such protection is unneeded. Nevertheless, I wouldn't want to paint the picture as nicer than it is, or to dismiss the real experiences that people are describing, to avoid that fear and narrative.
Very well put, David. And just to clarify - I don’t think anyone has crossed that fine line on this thread. Good to see so many measured responses.
 
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